"Top Scorer Returns" - Premiership Rugby Preview and Team News Ahead of Round Seven - Page 2 of 3 - Ruck

“Top Scorer Returns” – Premiership Rugby Preview and Team News Ahead of Round Seven

Sale Sharks vs Bath Rugby – AJ Bell Stadium, 19:45 KO

George Ford of Sale Sharks during the Gallagher Premiership match between Exeter Chiefs and Sale Sharks at Sandy Park, Exeter on 26th February 2023. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Sale Sharks Director of Rugby Alex Sanderson has named just three changes to his starting XV, after his sides’s 40-22 victory over Newcastle Falcons in last Friday’s Northern derby. Luke Cowan-Dickie is set for his first start as Sale hooker, and leads the up-front battle with Nick Schonert, who replaces James Harper at tight-head prop. George Ford is back at fly half for this fixture, as Sanderson has picked a primed and ready Sale side, that looks close to as full strength.

However, the Sharks will be without England flanker Tom Curry, who continues to battle a hip injury. Tom’s twin brother Ben Curry will captain the side, as he starts on the open-side flank. Another Sale change comes in the replacements, with former Exeter Chiefs winger Tom O’Flaherty back on the bench in his return from injury. Rob du Preez switches roles and is back in the centres, after running out at fly half during Ford’s absence at Kingston Park.

Chris Cloete of Bath Rugby and Thomas Du Toit of Bath Rugby celebrates after winning during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bath Rugby and Newcastle Falcons at the Recreation Ground on 14 October 2023. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

Bath Head Coach Johann van Graan has named a rotated side for the trip to the North West, with numerous changes coming in both personnel and positions. Thomas du Toit shifts across the front row from tight-head to loose-head prop, after scoring four tries in five games for the Somerset club. Josh McNally and Ewan Richards return to start in the pack, at lock and blindside flanker respectively.

Johann van Graan has also shuffled the deck in his back-line, with Will Butt and Max Ojomah forming a partnership in the centres. The back three consists of Matt Gallagher and Ruaridh McConnochie on the wings and Tom de Glanville gets the nod to start at fullback.

RUCK Prediction: Sale Sharks 34 – 16 Bath Rugby


Joe Carpenter of Sale Sharks and Tom Roebuck of Sale Sharks celebrates after winning during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Semi Final Match between Sale Sharks and Leicester Tigers at AJ Bell Stadium on 14 May 2023. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

15. Joe Carpenter, 14. Tom Roebuck, 13. Rob du Preez, 12. Sam Bedlow, 11. Arron Reed, 10. George Ford, 9. Gus Warr; 1. Bevan Rodd, 2. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3. Nick Schonert, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Jonny Hill, 6. Ernst van Rhyn, 7. Ben Curry, 8. Dan du Preez.   

16. Agustin Creevy, 17. Si McIntyre, 18. James Harper, 19. Josh Beaumont, 20. Sam Dugdale, 21. Nye Thomas, 22. Sam James, 23. Tom O’Flaherty.   


Finn Russell of Bath Rugby during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bath Rugby and Newcastle Falcons at the Recreation Ground on 14 October 2023. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

15. Tom de Glanville 14. Ruaridh McConnochie 13. Max Ojomah 12. Will Butt 11. Matt Gallagher 10. Finn Russell 9. Louis Schreuder 1. Thomas du Toit 2. Niall Annett 3. Johannes Jonker 4. Josh McNally 5. GJ Van Velze 6. Ewan Richards 7. Chris Coetzee 8. Jacob Coetzee

16. Tom Dunn 17. Juan Schoeman 18. Archie Griffin 19. Fergus Lee-Warner 20. Nahum Merigan 21. Ben Spencer 22. Orlando Bailey 23. Cameron Redpath

Saturday 25th November

Gloucester Rugby vs Leicester Tigers Kingsholm Stadium, 14:30 KO

Seb Atkinson of Gloucester Rugby during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bristol Bears and Gloucester Rugby at Ashton Gate, Bristol on the 6th May. PHOTO: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

This match-up between Gloucester and Leicester Tigers has added significance, as the fixture will be contested for the Slater Cup. The former captain of both Gloucester and Leicester, Ed Slater’s inspiration in his fight against MND, will be driving on both sides for the victory at Kingsholm. With the contest introduced last season alongside the remarkable 4ED Campaign, Leicester are the current holders of the trophy and will be eager to retain the silverware at the home of Gloucester.

Leicester captain Julien Montoya returns to the starting line-up, in his first game back for the club since completing his Argentina duties at the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Tigers centre Matt Scott also gets his first start of the Premiership season, earning the opportunity to line-up alongside Dan Kelly in the midfield. The rest of the Tigers starting XV is unchanged, and there are two milestone caps for a couple of half-centurions. South African back-row Jasper Weise is set for his 50th Premiership cap, and fullback Freddie Steward makes his 50th Premiership start.

Julian Montoya, Captain of Leicester Tigers during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Semi Final Match between Sale Sharks and Leicester Tigers at AJ Bell Stadium on 14 May 2023. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

Gloucester Rugby Head Coach George Skivington has named one change in his forwards pack, with Academy graduate Freddie Thomas coming in to replace the injured Albert Tuisue in the back-row. There is also just one change in the Cherry and Whites back-line, with Italian international Stephen Varney back in at scrum-half, and takes over from Micky Young to supply George Barton at first reciever.

Gloucester want to get their hands on the Slater Cup for the first time, with Kingsholm hosting a double header. Gloucester-Hartpury take on Leicester Tigers Women in Premiership Women’s Rugby after the match. The men’s match puts the eighth and ninth ranked sides against one another, with crucial points on offer to begin the accent back up the Premiership table.

RUCK Prediction: Gloucester Rugby 21 – 24 Leicester Tigers


Try Celebrations for Santiago Carreras of Gloucester Rugby as he goes over for a try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Gloucester Rugby and Northampton Saints at Kingsholm on 3 December. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

15. Santi Carreras 14. Louis Rees-Zammit 13. Chris Harris 12. Seb Atkinson 11. Ollie Thorley 10. George Barton 9. Stephen Varney 1. Mayco Vivas 2. George McGuigan 3. Fraser Balmain 4. Freddie Clarke 5. Matias Alemanno 6. Freddie Thomas 7. Lewis Ludlow (C) 8. Jack Clement


16. Santi Socino 17. Harry Elrington 18. Jamal Ford-Robinson 19. Arthur Clark 20. Ben Donnell 21. Micky Young 22. Mark Atkinson 23. Louis Hillman-Cooper


Freddie Steward of Leicester Tigers is tackled by Alex Lozowski of Saracens during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final Match between Leicester Tigers and Saracens at Twickenham Stadium on 18 June 2022. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

15. Freddie Steward 14. Josh Bassett 13. Matt Scott 12. Dan Kelly 11. Ollie Hassell-Collins 10. Handré Pollard 9. Ben Youngs 1. James Cronin 2. Julián Montoya (c) 3. Joe Heyes 4. Cameron Henderson 5. Ollie Chessum 6. Hanro Liebenberg 7. Tommy Reffell 8. Jasper Wiese


16. Charlie Clare 17. James Whitcombe 18. Dan Cole 19. Harry Wells 20. Matt Rogerson 21. Tom Whiteley 22. Jamie Shillcock 23. Solomone Kata

Saracens vs Bristol Bears – Stone X Stadium, 15:00 KO

Tom Parton of Saracens during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Harlequins and Saracens at Twickenham Stoop, London on 18th November 2023. Photo: Frankie OKeeffe/PPAUK

Saracens are looking for a fifth consecutive win in the Gallagher Premiership, and build on their momentum from their London derby win over Harlequins last weekend. Sarries Director of Rugby Mark McCall has made four changes to his side that won at the Stoop, with three coming in the backs and two in the pack. Tom Willis has been picked to start at blindside flanker, with Billy Vunipola the preferred option at number eight.

Theo McFarland looks set for his return to Saracens action following his injury, yet must bide his time as he takes a seat on the substitutes bench. Olly Hartley will also be looking to build on his try scoring talents that he showcased against Quins. Currently sat at fourth in the Gallagher Premeirship, a win for Saracens would propel them up into the top three, or even the top two dependent on how Sale vs Bath plays out tonight.

Try Celebrations for Bryan Byrne of Bristol Bears during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bristol Bears and Bath Rugby at Ashton Gate on 29 Jan. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Bristol Bears come into the fray hoping for a return to form, after their narrow defeat to Bath in last weekend’s Somerset derby. Pat Lam has a centurion amongst his ranks, as Jake Heenan gets set for his 100th Bristol cap in the number six jersey. Bears captain Fritz Harding switches positions to number eight, and the re-shuffled back-row is completed with Dan Thomas at open-side flanker. Max Malins will be chomping at the bit for a run-out against his old club, and the England flyer is named at fullback.

There could be a Bristol Bears debut for Fijian international Kalaveti Ravouvou, who is named amongst Lam’s replacements. 19-year-old Bears academy star Paddy Pearce could also get his first taste of Premiership action, as the back-rower is also on the bench. Pearce has had a recent breakthrough in the Premiership Rugby Cup, and will be eager to progress to the bright lights of a domestic league debut at the Stone X.


Owen Farrell, Captain of Saracens lines up the penalty during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final Match between Saracens and Sale Sharks at Twickenham Stadium on 27 May 2023. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

15. Alex Goode 14. Alex Lewington 13. Elliot Daly 12. Nick Tompkins 11. Tom Parton 10. Owen Farrell (c) 9. Aled Davies 1. Mako Vunipola 2. Jamie George 3. Christian Judge 4. Maro Itoje 5. Hugh Tizard 6. Tom Willis 7. Andy Christie 8. Billy Vunipola


16 Kapeli Pifeleti 17. Eroni Mawi 18. Alec Clarey 19. Theo McFarland 20. Toby Knight 21. Gareth Simpson 22. Olly Hartley 23. Sean Maitland


Harry Thacker of Bristol Bears during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Semi Final Match between Bristol Bears and Harlequins at Ashton Gate on 19 Jun. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

15. Max Malins 14. Gabriel Ibitoye 13. Virimi Vakatawa 12. Benhard Janse van Rensburg 11. Rich Lane 10. Callum Sheedy 9. Harry Randall 1. Ellis Genge 2. Gabriel Oghre 3. 18. Kyle Sinckler 4. James Dun 5. Joe Batley 6. Jake Heenan 7. Dan Thomas 8. Fitz Harding (c).


16. Harry Thacker 17. Jake Woolmore 18. George Kloska 19. Josh Caulfield 20. Paddy Pearce 21. Kieran Marmion 22. James Williams 23. Kalaveti Ravouvou